By John Magee
This week I want to look back at a classic comedy, a movie from the late 1980’s with special effects that hold up really well. My Netflix Pick this week is “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit has a really interesting premise, what if cartoons weren’t drawn but instead filmed live action and all those cartoon people or “toons” were real people? The movie is a parody of old school noir cop dramas, however, what makes this movie so special is that it manages to somehow make fun and genuinely be a mystery movie.
Bob Hoskins is perfectly cast as private investigator Eddie Valiant, a man whose brother was killed by a toon and has never been able to trust them since. Next to Valiant is the titular character Roger Rabbit, one of many entirely animated characters in the live action movie. Roger is a star of the cartoons and at the start of the movie Eddie is hired by Marvin Acme, Roger’s boss, to find out if the rabbit’s wife is cheating on him. Shortly after Eddie is hired Acme is killed and the deed to the toon’s home city, aptly named Toon Town, is lost and Eddie and Roger’s real investigation begins.
The effects of the movie steal the show in a very subtle way, many of the film’s characters are animated and yet they still touch and throw and interact with real people and objects. While plenty of films currently use special effects for just about everything, and often do so seamlessly, with the fully CGI characters I usually have a feeling that they’re just fake; but there is just something about how obviously not real the characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit are that makes them feel real.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit also has some amazing cameos, the movie shows us Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse teaming up to tease Valiant as well as a three stooges style piano duel between ducks Daffy and Donald, as well as plenty other cameos from other famous characters. Christopher Lloyd stars as the villain of the piece and while it is difficult to say much about him without spoiling the plot he does a great job of combining the toon and human worlds with his ridiculously over the top, possibly even … cartoonish, evilness without making the character a caricature and still being genuinely scary as a bad guy.
The character of Roger Rabbit is a bit of a mixed bag, Roger’s voice is pretty high and some of his actions can get old fast but the movie does a good job of knowing when and how to shut Roger up keeping his character more eclectic than annoying.Who Framed Roger Rabbit succeeds in one aspect that not many movies have been able to lately, and that is not just having a fun or interesting premise but actually living up to the full potential of that premise. We see all that we could want to see from a world full of toons and not much that we didn’t. Overall Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a movie that is funny, has great special effects and great acting and under it all a plot that really pulls you into the story.